Omaha Skutt “practiced” at Koch Family Tennis Center on Monday and left with the Millard West Invitational team title.
Since the SkyHawks play in Class B, none of their matches at the tournament counted toward individual or team records. Hours before the team results were calculated, Skutt coach Sheryl Vaughn said she wasn't concerned about the outcome of the event; her team's focus was simply to improve.
“This is practice for us,” Vaughn said. “We're not here to win anything — we're here to see how much better we can get against the better competition.”
It turned out Skutt was the “better competition” much of the day. The SkyHawks reached the semifinals or better at both Nos. 1 and 2 singles and Nos. 1 and 2 doubles.
“We put a lot of work in this season, and they're reaping the benefits,” Vaughn said. “The girls are showing all the work they've put in is paying off.”
Millard West junior Emma Schelble breezed through the competition to claim the No. 1 singles crown.
Schelble, a state champion at No. 2 singles as a freshman and at No. 1 doubles a year ago, remained unbeaten with a convincing 8-2 victory over Columbus senior Sammi Licari in the final.
“We had really good points and our games were close,” Schelble said. “I was able to be consistent, stay patient and wait for my chance to win each point.”
Schelble said winning Monday is another step toward her ultimate goal: winning state — but this time at No. 1 singles.
“It's definitely not going to be easy,” she said. “I'm going to have to continue to work really hard and stay focused, but I think if I do that, I should be in a good position.”
Licari's father and Columbus coach Dave Licari said Schelble is at “a whole 'nother level.”
“There's other good players,” Licari said. “But I just think her overall makeup gives her an advantage (at state). She's for real. Her state championships are definitely not flukes.”
As Schelble cruised, Lincoln Southwest and Skutt played a roller coaster match in the No. 1 doubles final.
Southwest seniors Anna Bogdanov and Saki Aota collected the title and secured team runner-up honors with an 8-6 win over Skutt's Emilee Johnson and Stephanie Kaiser.
Bogdanov and Aota employed an unorthodox, two-back formation and used strong baseline play to claw back from a 6-4 deficit after opening the championship match with a 4-1 lead.
“Our doubles is a little bit non-traditional,” Southwest coach Dennis Hershberg said. “They're two singles players who we're trying to modify into doubles players. Luckily we've been able to take their skill set and make it work for us.”
In the No. 2 singles final, Lincoln East senior McKenzie Roehrs topped Skutt's Caroline Friedman 8-4, and in the No. 2 doubles final, Kearney junior Leigha Limbach and senior Stephanie Shields cruised to an 8-3 win over Lincoln Southwest juniors Lauren Works and Sara Hove.
Team scoring: Omaha Skutt 87, Lincoln Southwest 81, Papillion-La Vista 75, Lincoln Southeast 74, Lincoln East 68, Millard West 54, Columbus 54, Fremont 44, Bellevue East 42, Bellevue West 42, Norfolk 40, Lincoln Northeast 32, Millard South 30, Omaha Burke 28, Omaha North 14.
Individual results: No. 1 singles: Emma Schelble, Millard West, def. Sammy Licari, Columbus, 8-2. No. 2 singles: Mckenzie Roehrs, Lincoln East, def. Caroline Friedman, Omaha Skutt, 8-4. No. 1 doubles: Saki Aota/Anna Bogdanov, Lincoln Southwest, def Emilee Johnson/Stephanie Kaiser, Omaha Skutt, 8-6. No. 2 doubles: Stephanie Shields/Leigha Limbach, Kearney, def. Sarah Hove/Lauren Works, Lincoln Southwest, 8-3.
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